2008 BMW M3

Some cars clearly have interesting stories associated with them. A few of those stories are very compelling; cars that have lived their entire lives with a single owner who lovingly lavished gifts of unfettered maintenance and weekly detailings. Other times is a car which has somehow beaten the odds, appearing in completely original and untouched condition.

But more often than not the stories make you want to run away. Perhaps it is an accident history, lack of detail, or high price – whatever the case, there’s reason to be suspicious. With that in mind I consider today’s M3. What initially caught my attention, obviously, is the color. Phoenix Yellow Metallic was not a standard color on the E9X chassis, so finding one in that shade must mean that it was a BMW Individual car, right? Well, that would make this car very, very rare. There were a total of 865 Individual colors for the E9X, and of those only 2 are recorded to be Phoenix Yellow. That’s right, there are more E46 models painted Phoenix Yellow by BMW Individual after the color was discontinued in March 2005.

On top of that, the car has Fox Red leather. Now, that combination may not be for anyone everyone, but it certainly makes this car pretty special. Mileage, while not very low, also wasn’t outrageous. To add to the positives, there’s a host of Dinan upgrades and even disclosed maintenance. For all you DCT haters, it’s a 6-speed manual, too. And then there’s the price – $26,000. This car is into the same price bracket as prime E46 models. So, what gives?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2008 BMW M3 on eBay

2006 Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG

Earlier this year I looked at a 2005 Mercedes-Benz CL65 AMG and pondered how cheap it would need to be for me or you to take the risk on. Ultimately, at the $17,495 the seller was asking still wasn’t cheap enough for me to even think about buying the car. 603 hp and 738 lb·ft of torque be damned, $17,495 is still $17,495 to me. Today, we have the brother of the CL65 for sale in New Jersey, the S65, and guess what? It’s cheaper than $17,495. How cheap?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2006 Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG on eBay

Feature Listing: 2006 Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG

Bonkers.

That’s what the engineers at Mercedes-Benz went on the W220, apparently. They were not content with already have a very potent sedan in the supercharged S55 AMG (which featured the same supercharged M113 as yesterday’s E55 by the end of the run, but kicked up to 493 horsepower) or the ultra-luxurious S600 that had a 5.5 liter twin-turbocharged V12 that made the same horsepower as the S55 but even a bit more torque.

So, they combined them in 2005.

The result was the S65 AMG, which with the punched out M275-AMG 6.0 liter twin-turbocharged V12 produced a simply outlandish 604 horsepower and 738 lb.ft of torque. That was enough to propel this 5,000 pound sedan from 0-60 in 4.2 seconds. And while that sounds really quick (and IS really quick), that was not where the S65 excelled at accelerating. It was really on the fly that the numbers started to tumble as the speedometer rose; a quarter mile was dispatched in 12 seconds. No fancy launch program, no trick dual-clutch gearbox, not even really enough tire to transfer that power to the road despite the massive 275-35-19 treads in the rear. This was just pure, unadulterated Victorian-era power. The real number that stands out isn’t the top speed, because like all other sensible German sedans from the time period it was maxed at 155 m.p.h., but how quickly it got there: 21 seconds – 2.3 seconds ahead of a Ferrari 575. If you’re counting, that was about the same amount of time it took an early 1980s Volkswagen diesel to hit 60. And you were able to achieve this speed in what was effectively a modern Swiss chalet, comfortable, quiet and full of all the modern technical features you’d expect from the automotive equivalent of a Brookstone catalogue. But it was expensive, topping $180,000 before the few options you could select – yet today, these physics-defying super executives can be purchased by mere mortals:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2006 Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG on eBay

2013 BMW M3 Individual

Hardly out of production, journalists and enthusiasts alike are already calling the last of the naturally aspirated M3s a classic in the making. Some have even gone so far as to call the E9x M3 the best M product BMW has produced. Certainly it was a screamer, with butch good looks to back up the impressive power chops on tap from the S65 V8. As always, I’m drawn to the more unusual colors offered through BMW’s Individual program and today’s example is a pretty interesting one. Apparently, dissatisfied with the yellow-toned options from BMW’s own color catalogue, the buyer of this particular M3 asked BMW to head to the Black Forest and it came back with Speed Yellow from Zuffenhausen. A vibrant tone more piercing than Dakar but not as orange as Atacama, does this E92 light up your sky?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2013 BMW M3 Individual on Denver Craigslist

2011 BMW M3 Individual

My search for a Phoenix Yellow M3 consumed years, and along the way I checked out plenty of other custom yellow options. There were plenty of Dakar Yellow E46s and E92s, but it’s always neat to see something a little bit different. Named after a desert in Chile, the color was originally launched on the Z4 – but, of course, that didn’t stop a few imaginative souls from specifying BMW Individual to paint their pride in joy in the orange-yellow tone. It’s no small feat to do so, so while you’re there you might as well tick every option box, right? The results on this M3 are pretty interesting; from a $55,900 base price, the original buyer selected no less than $20,000 worth of options. Of particular interest to me (outside, of course, from the exterior color) is that they also had the imagination to order something other than black inside. Does it work?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2011 BMW M3 on eBay

2013 BMW M3 Individual

In my search for a M3, I kept my eye out for Individual shades on the E46 just to keep things interesting. Velvet Blue, for example, was one that caught my eye. I can’t imagine having the fortitude to plunk down the extra 10% premium to order a car that I couldn’t see in the flesh, then to sit for months on end waiting for it to arrive – hoping they painted it the right shade! But thankfully some buyers have the vision and means to provide us with very interesting color choices on these cars. Though they rarely come up for sale in comparison to the sea of black and silver that consumes 90% of the M3’s production, it certainly is awesome to see one in a unique shade such as this E92 specified through Individual in Brewster Green:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2013 BMW M3 on eBay

Motorsports Monday: M3-off

Last week, I pitted a wickedly turned up 944 Turbo against a much more tame E30 M3. My feeling was that the M3 was overpriced in comparison to the 944 Turbo – especially when you considered the performance envelope the 944 was capable of. That particular example was churning out in excess of twice what the M3 was producing from the legendary S14 – not exactly an apples to apples competition in anything but pricing. To equal the playing field a bit, this week I have two different racing M3s – the first and last of the two door variety. How does a very tuned E30 compare in value to a E92?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 BMW M3 on eBay

Feature Listing: 2011 BMW M3

This past weekend, I went out to Coventry Motorcar to sample some of the cars. My wife and I took out a nearly new RS5; it was impressive for sure. Then we took out the twin-turbo V12 CL65 AMG that was chipped; with well over 700 horsepower and enough torque to bump-start a Saturn V rocket, the throttle pedal simple corresponded to a large amount of giggling every time I dipped into it. But the car that we drove that stood out was the less powerful, older BMW M3. It was an E46; getting on a decade older than the RS5 – and obviously the technology has increased in leaps and bounds, as the Audi has near infinite adjustments for every aspect of the car. But driving dynamics? The M3 showed why it was, and still is, the benchmark that all other cars are compared to. It was thoroughly composed down the road, and slipping inside you felt instantly at home. A throaty shout announced each touch of the throttle, growing in vigor to a scream as the motor worked its way up the tach. On the go, it felt more composed than the Audi; amazing as it sounds, the Audi felt like it was trying to convince you it was fast. The BMW felt relaxed and at ease; it was like Usain Bolt showing up at a power walker’s evening workout. It just felt natural. When I got back to the shop, the manager said “if you liked that, wait until you drive the 2011”.

Move up to the E92 chassis, and the lack of technology that the E46 employed was remedied. Check out the option list on this particular example, and you’ll find everything conceivable and probably more than you need. The Premium Package gives you the power to move your seat, open your garage, fold your mirrors in tight spaces, navigate to those spaces thanks to the compass in the mirror, and connect your phone to the car.…

Face off: 2012 BMW M3 v. 335i

I’ve covered a series of BMW 3 series Individual cars recently, and I seem to be on a streak of finding neat ones. Today for your consideration are two E92s; one 335i turbo with low miles in a nice color combination compared to a M3 Individual with higher miles. The price is nearly the same between the two examples; which would be the one you’d select?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2012 BMW M3 on Craigslist

Low Mile Dilemma: 1999 BMW M3 v. 2008 BMW M3

In the last few weeks I’ve done a series of posts covering some well priced, good condition E36 M3s. The genesis of those posts came from a low mileage, slightly modified Dakar Yellow M3 which apparently really raised my ire. As with any car, there are opportunity costs for buying an example which is lower miles and near pristine condition; you’re paying not only for the exclusivity of having had someone store and not heavily use the model you’re clearly seeking, but then often you’re also paying extra for what they think it’s worth. In some cases – classic Ferraris, for argument’s sake – that won’t matter to the prospective buyers, whose bank accounts often align with small African nations. In others, the opportunity cost for getting into a low mile older car is that you could have a much newer car, with better features, performance and perhaps reliability. As such, today I’m looking at two very similarly priced M3s; the last of the run E36 versus the first of the run E92. 9 years, 45,000 miles, 2 cylinders and some 174 horsepower separate these black beauties – which is the one you’d choose?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1999 BMW M3 on eBay